I have no previous Q printmakers. But don’t worry; I’ll have plenty next time for R. And this won’t be too short a post, because it’s also time for…
Words of the Month - Mind Your Q’s
Q is a funny letter, being the only one in English with a constant companion. The Romans borrowed it from the Etruscans, along with the usage of QV to represent the sound kw. For the Romans, C, K, and Q could all be used to represent the sound k, but over time, for reasons I cannot tell you, C became dominant, and Q was left only when followed by the w sound. English received the Q, and its attendant U, from the Norman French in 1066, and it began to supplant the earlier English spellings so that cwic became quick. (Note that the Norman French were pronouncing their qu’s as kw. It was later that French pronunciation shifted, so that words that English borrowed later from Parisian French have qu’s pronounced like a simple k, as in pique and quiche.)
Ridiculousness is the segue to my last point. Even with Norman spellings of native English words and plenty of borrowings from other languages, Q remains the second least common letter in English (after z), and that tends to make Q words sound intrinsically goofy. Yes, words like quick and quiet are perfectly normal, but consider quack, quaff, quark, quaver, queasy, quibble, quinquennial, and quirk. Don’t they seem a little sillier and more fun than your average word?
[Pictures: Still Life with Vise, wood engraving by Charles F. Quest, 1948 or 50 (Image from the Cleveland Museum of Art);
Furnace, wood engraving by Quest, 1949 (Image from Georgetown University Library)
Jazz, woodcut by Quest, 1952 or 55 (Image from the Old Print Shop).]
A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter Q